Stay in Tune
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
Move over Thanksgiving here comes Christmas! I have to say that this year I'm really starting to feel the holiday spirit. Do you remember back when we were little kids, and how fun the holidays were? That warm fuzzy feeling that you get around this time .(maybe it's the eggnog, I don't know). Anyway before I go much further I would like to extend a very gracious Merry Christmas! to everyone in “eyeshot” of this article. May all of your holiday wishes come true and let's all please take the time to share a little Christmas spirit to everyone a little less fortune enough than ourselves.
This time of year usually takes it's toll on me and this year is no exception. I have been putting in many extra hours into my shop to try to finish the many repairs and other musical projects that I have, so they can be finished before Christmas. I'm hoping Santa will send some of his elves down to help me out .
Just to remind everyone again, I am still offering gift certificates till Jan 1( for all of you late shoppers) for $50.00 ( $75.00 value) for any repair or service that I offer through Wood-n-Strings. This includes a full setup on guitars, mandolins, basses, etc.
I have had the pleasure to see a couple of really good instruments in the past few weeks. One was a handmade guitar built by a man named TeddyWorkman (http://guitarsbytw.com/) He is from West Virginia and builds a very fine guitar. He is a big bluegrass lover and his main focus is on the big D shaped Martin style guitars that makes “bluegrass” music sound like 'bluegrass” music. You know, that big “bottom end” when the guitar players are playing that bass runnin Travis style pickin! He uses nothing but the highest quality materials and his craftsmanship is impeccable. The volume that his guitars put out is very impressive. He uses a forward shifted X-brace pattern that I believe contributes a lot to this fact. I'm always impressed with other luthiers “finish” on their guitars. Mr. Workman has a very high gloss nitrocellulose finish and the biggest sound that I may have ever heard. It's always nice to see and even work on other handmade guitars. On this guitar I had to replace the bone nut because of a pesty string buzz. This is not a reflection on his workmanship, it is just something that can happen to any guitar in time. The hard wire strings sometimes can cut a deeper grove into the bone nut causing the string to buzz off the first fret in the open position. Sometimes this can be fixed with a little bone dust and superglue, but I like to replace the nut for a more permanent repair.
Another repair this week was replacing a bridge and nut on a mid 60's Gibson B-25N . (the N stands for Natural finish ,opposed to a “sunburst” finish) In the 60's Gibson manufactured a line of affordable guitars for the masses. It was a simple solid mahogany guitar, ladder braced with plastic binding and a 10” radius rosewood fingerboard. It was a well built guitar that sold for about 85.00 brand new. The only thing wrong was that to save cost they installed a plastic bridge on them. This is about the 5th bridge like that I have had to replace like that and I'm sure it won't be the last. That is why when I become famous and have a 'huge”guitar factory, I won't make such a lame decisions like that just to save a few, or make few extra dollars. The guitar is really not a bad instrument (other than the plastic bridge held on from underneath with about 4 wood screws). What amazes me is that they still hold their value at about 500.00 in today's market. Probably due to the name “Gibson” more than anything else. I chose to replace the bridge with a real nice piece of Brazilian Rosewood . I'm sure the customer will appreciate the new tone the the wood bridge will add to the sound of his guitar. Along with a new bone nut the guitar is a real player now!
It seems as though I have had a rash of banjo's in the shop lately. I'm currently working on three of them .Two of them are restorations of “tenor” banjo's and another is a 5 string. The tenor banjo's have a unique history behind them . They were hugely popular in the early 1900's up until the about the “Great Depression”, Gibson, along with countless other manufacturers made them by the thousands to accomodate the ragtime music of the roaring twenties. So many of them have been lost in the attics or have been destroyed by time and are becoming sort of hard to find (in good working order) The Quality ones still bring in a very good price, so when you find one please don't throw it in the garbage. There are still a lot of collector's out there that will be glad to have the piece of history.
Well it's time for another chapter to close and another one to begin . Please check out more articles and pictures on my website and don't forget to sign up for my newsletter on Liam Guitar's facebook page. Happy Holidays!
Patrick from Wood-n-Strings/Liam Guitars